Stardom 5Star Grand Prix-view: A look at all 18 entrants in the 2019 round robin tournament.

By Harley R. Pageot, PWTorch contributor



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This Saturday, hot on the heels of NJPW’s G1 Climax as is tradition, World Wonder Ring Stardom kicks off their own annual round robin tournament. Stardom’s 5Star Grand Prix has taken place at the end of summer every year since 2012.

This year’s eighth installment will be the largest ever with 18 women divided into a Red Stars block and a Blue Stars block. Over the next month each wrestler will face every other wrestler in their block in one singles match with a 15-minute time limit, scoring 2 points for wins, 1 for draws, and 0 for losses. On September 29 the Grand Prix concludes with the high-scorer in each block facing off in one final singles match, the winner earning the right to challenge Bea Priestley for the World Of Stardom Championship this fall.

RED STARS
Avary
AZM
Hazuki
Saki Kashima
Hana Kimura
Mayu Iwatani
Tam Nakano
Natsu Sumire
Momo Watanabe

BLUE STARS
Utami Hayashishita
Jamie Hayter
Arisa Hoshiki
Kagetsu
Konami
Jungle Kyona
Andras Miyagi
Bea Priestley
Natsuko Tora

Due to the nature of the Grand Prix many stablemates are forced to fight each other in matches that would otherwise rarely occur. Most notably here that’s AZM vs. Watanabe, Hazuki vs. Sumire, and Iwatani vs. Kashima vs. Nakano in the Red Stars block. Meanwhile, in the Blue Stars block, we’ve got Priestley vs. Hayashishita again, Kagetsu vs. Miyagi vs. Tora vs. Hayter, and our tag team champions facing off in Kyona vs. Konami.

For a more in-depth look at each competitor let’s break things down a bit.

AVARY

Unit Affiliation: none
Pro Debut: 2016
Finishing Move: unknown
Stardom Records: none
Previous Grand Prix Experience: none
Singles Record In 2019: n/a
Possibility Of Winning: Zero. Having never competed in Stardom before, the Australian wrestler is a question mark. Due to that fact she may score a couple big upsets over top stars and play spoiler to people like Iwatani but the odds of her winning the entire tournament are infinitesimal.

AZM

Unit Affiliation: Queen’s Quest
Pro Debut: 2013 (age 10)
Finishing Move: top rope double-stomp
Stardom Records: former 2-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: none
Singles Record In 2019: 4-5
Possibility Of Winning: 2%. AZM was never even supposed to be in this tournament. The 16 year-old is meant to be focusing on her school studies right now. Originally this spot was reserved for Irish wrestler Kasey Owens but visa issues saw her pulled from the tournament and the Stardom staff had to find someone new to take her place. It’s a big step for AZM and entering the tournament is an accomplishment in itself, even if she ends up coming in last place.

UTAMI HAYASHISHITA

Unit Affiliation: Queen’s Quest
Pro Debut: August 12, 2018
Finishing Move: torture rack
Stardom Records: current SWA World Champion, current Future Of Stardom Champion, former Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, winner of the 2018 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league, 2018 Rookie Of The Year
Previous Grand Prix Experience: 2018 Grand Prix finalist
Singles Record In 2019: 11-2-1
Possibility Of Winning: Moderate to high. Hayashishita has had a rookie year unparalleled. She only debuted a little over one year ago and has already held three Stardom titles (simultaneously) and won two tournaments. Last year she made it to the finals of the Grand Prix as well. For that reason alone I think now is the time they pull back on her a little. The initial work has been done. She’s already solidified as an upper midcarder and top name in the promotion. If they continue to push too hard we risk entering SuperCena territory. A couple draws here and maybe one loss to Kyona or Kagetsu will keep her scoring high but failing to win the block. Hayashishita will hold the white belt in 2020 and when we circle back around to next year’s Grand Prix she’ll likely be my lock to win the whole thing on her third try.

JAMIE HAYTER

Unit Affiliation: Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2015
Finishing Move: falcon arrow backbreaker
Stardom Records: none
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2018 Grand Prix
Singles Record In 2019: 1-2-1
Possibility Of Winning: Nope. We’re not building to gaijin vs. gaijin as our big world title match and there are too many top names in the blue stars block for Hayter to place anywhere near the top. As good as she is it’s also worth noting that Hayter’s the only person in the tournament besides Avary (who has never competed for Stardom before) to never hold a championship in Stardom.

HAZUKI

Unit Affiliation: Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2014
Finishing Move: Hazukistral (flash pinning combination)
Stardom Records: former High Speed Champion, former 4-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion, 2014 Rookie Of The Year
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2017 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 9-4-1
Possibility Of Winning: Moderate. Dropping the high speed title after a long run could be prepping her for a climb up the ranks and a long run with an even more prestigious title but the red belt seems a bridge too far right now. Maybe the white belt.

ARISA HOSHIKI

Unit Affiliation: Stars
Pro Debut: 2011
Finishing Move: Brazilian kick
Stardom Records: current Wonder Of Stardom Champion, winner of the 2019 Cinderella Tournament, finalist in the 2011 Rookie Of Stardom tournament
Previous Grand Prix Experience: none
Singles Record In 2019: 8-0
Possibility Of Winning: High. Not only is she the current Wonder Of Stardom Champion and the winner of this year’s Cinderella tournament, Hoshiki also has the best record of anyone in Stardom this year and is the only person to wrestle at least three singles matches without a loss or a draw. Winning this tournament on top of all that would be huge but possibly too much pressure. I expect her to take her first pinfall loss in 2019 here to someone who will be set up as her next major white belt opponent this fall. That and a draw or two will keep her just short of winning her block.

MAYU IWATANI

Unit Affiliation: leader of Stars
Pro Debut: 2011
Finishing Move: dragon suplex
Stardom Records: former World Of Stardom Champion, former 2-time Wonder Of Stardom Champion, former 2-time Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former 5-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion, former High Speed Champion, winner of the 2015 & 2016 Cinderella Tournaments, finalist in the 2017 Cinderella Tournament, winner of the 2015 Goddesses Of Stardom tag tournament, finalist in the 2014 & 2016 Goddesses Of Stardom tag tournaments
Previous Grand Prix Experience: 2018 Grand Prix winner, competed in the 2014, 2015, 2016, & 2017 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 2-0
Possibility Of Winning: Always high. No one has ever won the Grand Prix twice but don’t put it past Iwatani to be the first. She is the icon of Stardom for a reason and becoming the first two-time Grand Prix winner is one of the only things left in Stardom that she hasn’t done. Iwatani’s been kept away from the red belt this year, mostly competing in tag matches and holding the Women Of Honor World Championship in America for a few months. The fact that she won the tournament last year is the only strike I have against her being the top contender to take the crown this year.

KAGETSU

Unit Affiliation: leader of Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2008
Finishing Move: Oedo Coaster (450 splash)
Stardom Records: current 2-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion, former World Of Stardom Champion, former 2-time Goddess Of Stardom tag champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2017 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 4-1-3
Possibility Of Winning: Very strong. Not only is Kagetsu a perpetual title contender and our last red belt champion, she’s also the only competitor in the tournament to have been wrestling for over a decade. She can be reinserted into the red belt title picture at any time and be seen as a credible threat. It does feel a little soon to put the title back on her, though. Lately she’s been talking about wanting to deliver the best trios matches anyone’s ever seen in joshi wrestling so that seems to point toward her focusing more on tag wrestling for the foreseeable future.

SAKI KASHIMA

Unit Affiliation: Stars
Pro Debut: 2011
Finishing Move: My Emblem (inverted double underhook facebuster)
Stardom Records: former Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former 3-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2012 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 6-3
Possibility Of Winning: Slim. Kashima’s a midcard player. She can be a multi-time tag team champion but I just can’t see her holding a singles championship or winning a tournament like this. If it weren’t for AZM and Avary being in the same bracket Kashima might have been my pick for finishing last.

HANA KIMURA

Unit Affiliation: leader of Tokyo Cyber Squad
Pro Debut: 2016
Finishing Move: ground octopus stretch
Stardom Records: former Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former 2-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2017 Grand Prix
Singles Record In 2019: 6-1
Possibility Of Winning: Red hot. Kimura can be frustrating as a character. She’s a snotty brat and a bad influence to impressionable teens Rina and Ruaka. She consistently rips off the patented mannerisms of her former stable Oedo Tai and does a poor job of hiding her jealousy whenever her stable members Kyona and Konami succeed where she’s failed. But she’s also charismatic, has a strong sense of identity, good looks to match, and moves merchandise like no one else. Since signing full-time with Stardom earlier this year it’s seemed like only a matter of time until she sits atop the throne. She’s already turned an international army into a cyber squad and she’s behind only Hoshiki for the best singles record in Stardom this year. My heart may want a different result but my brain says the era of Hana is about to begin.

KONAMI

Unit Affiliation: Tokyo Cyber Squad
Pro Debut: 2014
Finishing Move: triangle lancer
Stardom Records: current Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former 2-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion, finalist in the 2019 Cinderella Tournament
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2017 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 7-5-1
Possibility Of Winning: Unlikely, but not impossible. 2019 has been the biggest year for Konami yet. Since being drafted from Queen’s Quest into TCS she’s won the trios titles, the tag titles, and made it to the finals of the Cinderella tournament, narrowly losing to Hoshiki. Could she make it to the finals again here? If she didn’t have such stiff competition in the block I’d say yes. Instead it’s a hard maybe.

JUNGLE KYONA

Unit Affiliation: Tokyo Cyber Squad
Pro Debut: 2015
Finishing Move: hammer throw powerbomb
Stardom Records: current 3-time Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former 3-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion, winner of the 2015 Rookie Of Stardom tournament, finalist in the 2017 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2016, 2017, & 2018 Grand Prixs,
Singles Record In 2019: 3-4-1
Possibility Of Winning: Indeterminable. Kyona is easily the top babyface in Stardom not in Stars (and possibly still at the top even including the Stars women). She has an authenticity and tenacity and vulnerability to her that wrestlers of any gender worldwide should envy. No wrestler has made me cry more this year than Kyona. From seeing the Jungle Assault Nation forced to disband to challenging and failing to capture the white belt on two occasions Kyona consistently comes so close but is just unable to cross that finish line first. Nothing would fill me with more joy than to see her win the blue block and go on to defeat Kimura, her TCS leader and the woman responsible for JAN disbanding. Kyona being the Japanese hero who slays the belligerent gaijin champion, Priestley, capturing the elusive red belt for the first time and bringing it home, would be a feel-good moment like no other. It’s what my heart wants more than anything. But heartbreak is the name of Kyona’s game.

ANDRAS MIYAGI

Unit Affiliation: Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2014
Finishing Move: tombstone piledriver
Stardom Records: current Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: none
Singles Record In 2019: 4-3
Possibility Of Winning: 50/50. Miyagi arrived in Stardom back in February and has been treated like a big deal since then, holding her own against established stars and rarely taking the loss in tag matches, but the idea of her winning a whole tournament like this and challenging Priestley for the red belt just doesn’t seem like a thing that would happen.

TAM NAKANO

Unit Affiliation: Stars
Pro Debut: 2016
Finishing Move: bridging tiger suplex
Stardom Records: former 2-time Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2017 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 2-3-3
Possibility Of Winning: 1 in 7. Nakano could mean so much more than she currently does but she’s been used mostly as a utility player this year, reliable for quality matches but not being treated as any real threat to anyone or given any stories that go anywhere.

BEA PRIESTLEY

Unit Affiliation: Queen’s Quest
Pro Debut: 2016
Finishing Move: Queen’s Landing (straitjacket electric chair suplex pin)
Stardom Records: current World Of Stardom Champion, winner of the 2017 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league, finalist in the 2018 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league
Previous Grand Prix Experience: none
Singles Record In 2019: 7-1-1
Possibility Of Winning: Unlikely. The champion rarely wins this sort of thing. After all, the winner earns the right to challenge Priestley for her title. But also, if anyone is able to beat the champ throughout the tournament or take her to a draw, they’ve essentially earned themselves a future title match right there regardless of the final Grand Prix outcome.

NATSU SUMIRE

Unit Affiliation: Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2013
Finishing Move: northern lights suplex
Stardom Records: current Artist Of Stardom trios champion
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2018 Grand Prix
Singles Record In 2019: 7-2
Possibility Of Winning: Quite rare. My dream scenario has Sumire going full Toru Yano and using shenanigans to cause upset over upset, wrecking the bracket for many of her opponents. She should play the role of spoiler while simultaneously losing to the people who should be “below her” like Kashima and AZM.

NATSUKO TORA

Unit Affiliation: Oedo Tai
Pro Debut: 2016
Finishing Move: F-Crash (swinging side slam)
Stardom Records: former Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former Artist Of Stardom trios champion, finalist in the 2016 Rookie Of Stardom tournament
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2018 Grand Prix
Singles Record In 2019: 6-2-1
Possibility Of Winning: Dismal. Tora got a big push coming out of the draft with her heel turn following the disbanding of JAN but it didn’t last long. Her singles record still looks decent on paper but that’s not taking into account all of the tag matches where she’s been the one pinned. With how competitive the blue stars block is there’s a very real chance that she places last.

MOMO WATANABE

Unit Affiliation: leader of Queen’s Quest
Pro Debut: 2014
Finishing Move: Peach Sunrise (bridging three-quarter nelson suplex)
Stardom Records: former Wonder Of Stardom Champion, former Goddess Of Stardom tag champion, former Artist Of Stardom trios champion, winner of the 2018 Cinderella Tournament, winner of the 2018 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league
Previous Grand Prix Experience: competed in the 2016 & 2018 Grand Prixs
Singles Record In 2019: 6-3-1
Possibility Of Winning: Very high. Watanabe’s considered by many to be the new ace of Stardom and has consistently delivered the highest-quality singles matches this year. She just lost both the white belt and the tag titles, freeing her up to take the big one? The only reasons she’s not my top pick to win the whole thing is the fact that she just challenged Priestley for the title three weeks ago and lost clean. Would they go back to that match again so quickly? It’s possible. But Priestley’s whole gimmick as of late has been the smarmy “top gaijin.” It sounds like she’s being built up to be toppled by a formidable rival. Having a close friend and her unit leader be that person doesn’t seem to make much sense.

18 wrestlers. 13 shows. 145 matches. 1 winner.


Find Harley on Twitter @yrechoheart and listen to he and Emily Fear talk all things ROH every Wednesday on the PWTorch Dailycast “Talking Honor.” Harley will have full coverage of every single Grand Prix show right here at the Pro Wrestling Torch.

2 Comments on Stardom 5Star Grand Prix-view: A look at all 18 entrants in the 2019 round robin tournament.

  1. Nice write-up.

    Can’t see past Mayu or Hana winning personally. Momo and Utami feel like they’ve been cooled down too much lately. Out of the two… I’ll say Mayu wins her second GP in a row.

    Rooting for a surprise winner like Kyona, Tam, or Hazuki though.

  2. Hana or Momo winning seem the most likely. Momo winning the red belt at some point is guaranteed. Having her win this, then go on to avenge her loss against Bea seems a very high possibility. Hana is also a strong possibility, but the problem with Hana is, her ring work is still not where it needs to be to be competing for the top title, and while Rossy is certainly aware of her popularity, I’m not sure he’s quite ready to put her in the title picture yet. My personal preference would have Tam win it, but since Tam never gets booked to win anything big I know it won’t happen.

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